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23.01.19

East Sussex council strips back budget cuts by £20m with help of government grants

A cash-strapped council has dramatically reduced its savings target by £20m after receiving concessions from the government, meaning a number of extreme budget cuts are no longer needed.

East Sussex County Council announced that a savings target of £45m over three years had been reduced to £26.3m after successfully lobbying the government has resulted in £8.3m in new grants for the council.

Cuts will still take place, and the council’s proposals will see its meals on wheels subsidy completely cut and council tax will rise by 2.99% in order to find £5.13m of savings in order to balance next year’s budget.

At a cabinet meeting, East Sussex’s chief executive Becky Shaw said a number of one-off contributions and the government settlement had allowed the council to reduce its planned cutbacks, and it also stands to benefit from a business-rates pilot it participates in.

But whilst the council’s lead member for resources, David Elkin, praised a balanced budget which was the result of “a huge amount of work by officers, partners and members,” he also voiced his concerns regarding the one-off funding.

“We have always been open and transparent and know that despite successful lobbying the outcome has been time-limited funding – one-offs.

“Balancing the budget over the next three years still involves extremely difficult savings proposals. However, it is my belief we must bring a degree of certainty in extremely uncertain times.”

The £438,000 meals-on-wheels subsidy will be completely cut, and the support given to schools by the council will also be stripped back, leaving the those who receive the mean footing the full cost of the service.

The county council’s cabinet will now need to approve the £375m budget for 2019-20 on 5 February.

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